Monday, January 23, 2012

Mailmen Overcome Poor Offensive Outings, Win 2 Straight

If I had told you the Mailmen shot 5 of 33 (15%) from three, 31 of 88 (35%) from two, 9 of 21 (43%) from the line and leading scorer Brandon Hunter managed only 6 points in one of two games...would you have thought the team would come away 2-0?

"Defense wins championships," said Mike Giardina after a 42-40 victory over the previously undefeated M&M Buckeye last night. Giardina actually paced the team with 13 points and hit the only three pointer (out of 16) for the team.

He would seem to be right. The Mailmen held Buckeye to 40 and Team Eric to 30 points as the Mailmen moved to 5-1 in the regular season, slotting them #2 in the power rankings for the league.

Offense has come few and far between the past two games. The team is well below their season average of about 61 points per game in the past two only mustering 42 and 45 respectively, the past two outings. The Mailmen are usually paced by scoring forward Brandon Hunter, but he has only managed to hit 3 of his last 15 three pointers, a place where he had been shooting better this year, than last.

But where Brandon couldn't fill, others stepped up. Against Buckeye, Mike Giardina had a season high 13 (6 rebounds), Pat Cripple 11 (6 rebounds) and Jason Hunter 10 (season high 7 rebounds).

Defense also played a valuable part in the victorys. Mike, Pat and Jason locked up the top of the key and arc forcing tipped passes and grabbing some takeaways. The rest of the big men contested shots inside and gave the other teams only one opportunity to score.

"We didn't give up a lot of second chance points," injured big man Kerry Hunter said, "we did a great job or bodying, especially late in the second game. We couldn't score, but neither could they. With us in the lead, that's all that matters."

Andy Kempf and Johno Reminder once again battled inside, defending shots and gobbling up the glass. Brandon did his part against Buckeye as well, leading the team with 9 rebounds.

"Poor night from me shooting, worst night of the season," said Brandon, "but with us winning, it's good to see that I can have an off night and we can still come away with it."

Jason agreed, "We usually don't have to work this hard to score. Brandon usually paces us, but everyone else stepped up. Good to get a well fought W."

The Mailmen play a rare Monday night game next week against Darice.


Coach Hunter struggling offensively
Jason Hunter has yet to find his mark from deep. Shooting only 19% (5/27) in six games so far this year.

"I actually felt comfortable this past game against Buckeye. I need to start shooting the same way each time. I fade in and out of styles depending on where I catch it and how open I am. The form I used tonight I shot it the same way all 4 attempts. They'll start to fall. I'm going to continue to go to the basket more, seem to do well inside right now."

Jason is shooting 53% (16/30) from inside the arc this season.

Kerry Hunter back to the IR
After two games, center Kerry Hunter is back to street clothes and coaching the sidelines.

"The twisting and turning might just be too much for my knee right now. During the game I feel fine, but afterward, it's just too much too soon I think."

No details on when he would return. But hopefully after a few more weeks of rest, Hunter would be ready to go. He is averaging 6.5 points and 5 rebounds in two games so far this season.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Post Between Games

I have been hearin rumblings that people want more out of my blog than just posts about the rec bball I am going to try to give you all a little bit of that right now.

I want to give my opinion on what the Cavs and Browns should do in the upcoming off-seasons. The Indians are on a whole different level, there's way too much going on right now...and in all honesty, I would rather see the Cavs and Browns do well, if I had my choice.

I'll work on the Cavs first...

Cleveland Cavs 2012 off-season

2012 Season Moves

If Jamison decides to become a better shooter this year, as hovering around 40% will not do it, you may be able to trade him away to a contender looking for a scorer off the bench. You would have to take on an awful contract as well, seeing as Jamison makes around $14 mil this year. But maybe Atlanta bites, giving to their first rounder/Etan Thomas. The Celtics? Would hurt to give a Division rival a scorer but they could give a first rounder/Nenad Kristic or Jermaine O'Neal. Pacers maybe into the mix for a first/Louis Amundson. There are potential suitors out there and finding a way to add another pick in the draft could play big dividens at the end of the year.

Find a way to retain Alonzo Gee. I debated Semih Erdan here, but I guess I haven't seen enough of him yet to determine if he's worth a shot next year. He's only 27, so he still has plenty of basketball left. Gee on the other hand may get handed the starting SF role here later this season if he continues to play well. He's outplayed Casspi so far, but since we traded Hickson for him, Casspi was basically handed that role. I had better hopes for him and maybe he will improve. But Gee right now is the guy I want next year at that spot.

Sign Sessions long term. If someone puts a over the top deal on the table for Ramon during this season...something you can't pass up, I'd say take it as long as you're getting at least a first rounder and maybe even future picks (the same would go for Andy in this spot, but that deal would have to be absolutely too great to pass up (think first/second/future picks and another, young talent)). But Sessions is easily the best back-up point guard in the league and could start for probably half of the teams in the NBA now...Knick fans are practically drooling over him. Having him behind Irving keeps the offense moving when Kyrie needs a break.

Anthony Parker is either traded or just retires at the end of the season. I could see him being brought back as a coach of some kind in 2013. He's a great locker room and team guy, but his role is limited even more next year.

2012 Draft

After looking at the board a few times and understanding the Cavs will probably be looking at drafting in the top 10 (I know they are off to a great start now, but the schedule gets tougher and a young team will hit speed bumps), there are plenty of options.

Considering the following statements above and we bring back Gee and possibly Erdan the Cavs roster looks like this:

PG - Irving, Sessions, Gibson
SG -
SF - Casspi, Gee, Eyenga
PF - Thompson, Samuels
C - Varejao, Erdan

Sorry Harangody and Hollins, but if the Cavs have at least three draft picks this offseason, I can't see you guys coming back. Maybe Harangody as the 14th or 15th guy, but nothing more.

So let's say the Cavs can give Jamison away for a late first rounder. The Kings pick that we received will probably not be received this year, as the Kings are terrible and the pick is protected if Sacramento in in the draft lottery. The Cavs will ultimately pick in the top 10 as well, even considering their hot start.

I see the Cavs picks as follows:
First Round - 7, 26
Second Round - 35 (JaBron trade), 37

Four picks would be a fantastic thing this year for a Cavs team on the rise. This years draft will be a great one, with a lot of players coming out who held off last year.

This will probably be an interesting pick for the Cavs. SF isn't really a spot the Cavs desperately need as SG would need to be filled immediately. I don't really see the Cavs trading down, unless they are concrete on who they want a little later and get a decent deal at 7. has Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going at #7 and I would agree with this pick for the Cavs. It may come down to picking the best player available and someone who can creat their own shot. MKG fits this bill perfectly. As much as I would love Harrison Barnes here, he will most likely be gone well before 7 and even my second choice, Jeremy Lamb from UConn will also be off the board here. Kidd-Gilchrist is a prospect who has been given great grades on character and a willingness to improve. He's also a great defender, which fits into Coach Scott's game plan to a tee.

Wherever the Cavs pick down here is just an added bonus. has Mason Plumlee from Duke here and he wouldn't be a terrible pick. The Cavs may need to look for a future Center here or just go after more scoring. Other picks that I would like to see late in the first round incluce UNC PF/C Tyler Zeller (another big body, closer to 7 feet than Plumlee), IUPUI guard Alex Young (scorer, JR Smith-like off the bench), and William Buford from Ohio State who can also fill it up from anywhere on the floor.

With the Heat pick I look to add more depth at Center, especially if we took another shooter late in the first round. Robert Sacre from Gonzaga, Reggie Johnson from Miami, and Henry Sims from Georgetown are all legit centers who will probably be on the board here. Sacre would have to add some strength where as Sims and Johnson would be projects to sit behind Varejao and Erdan to learn from some vets.

This last pick you can always take a flyer on someone or look overseas for some untapped potential. Eyenga was late in the second round and is actually turning some of his potential the past year. Quincy Acy from Baylor, Robbie Hummel from Purdue, JaMychal Green from Alabama, or Augusto Lima from Brazil could all be potential picks in this spot.

The picks at 35 and 37 would most likely be end of the bench guys or even D-leaguer's depending on any free agents the Cavs could bring in.

Free Agent Moves
There is a good list of guys any team would want after the year is over. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, and Andrew Bynum to name a few. The Cavs list is going to have to be shortened. Top-tier talent wont truly look to come here, even as much as Dan Gilbert would look to pay them.

Side Note: Keep up the GREAT work Mr. Gilbert and Chris Grant. Huge trades last year have put this team years ahead of the Browns and Indians

Some names that may be off your radar's out there include these guys:

DJ White, Omar Asik - Both big men have improved a lot over the past year. DJ White slipped into the Bobcats starting role while Tyrus Thomas was hurt and played well beyond his means. He's averaging around 10 points and 7 rebounds in about 25 minutes a night. Asik is 25 years old and a legit 7-footer. Last season in only 12 minutes a game Asik grabbed around 4 rebounds. You can't truly just double stats if you double his minutes. But even at 20 minutes a night, Asik would be good for 6-8 rebounds and over 55% shooting from the floor. Asik minutes have increased this season to around 18 and his totals have improved to around 6 boards and over a block a game.

Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph - With the Wolves looking to lock up Kevin Love long term and now the emergence of Rubio and the draft of Derrick Williams last year, either both or one of these two lengthy forwards will likely be a free agent. Beasley has bounced around a bit and could be a bit of a head case. But maybe another change of scenery, a starting spot or sixth-man role and an ability to run the floor could make him a good fit. Randolph also plays above the rim and blocks shots. Both are young, mid-20's and play enough defense to please Scott on that end.

Other notable FA's - Bill Walker, CJ Miles, Jodie Meeks, and OJ Mayo

If all went to how I would work it. The Cavs would sign Asik and Mayo. I would love Randolph, but with Thompson and Samuels there, I don't see a need at the PF spot. Beasley would also create a jam at SF and could potentially leave less time for MKG at the 3.

Here's a look at how the roster would break down for the 2012-2013 season.

PG - Irving, Sessions, Gibson
SG - Mayo, Alex Young
SF - Gee, Casspi, MKG
PF - Thompson, Samuels
C - Varejao, Asik

13-15 and D-league
Erdan, Eyenga, Pick 35 and 37

This roster leaves us a little short, but if Mayo isn't signed, Erdan or one of the big's picked in the 2nd round easily fill out the roster and give us a 5th big man. Picking Zeller or Plumlee late in the first round instead of Young also gives us that depth.

Big Move in 2013
Without really looking at the 2013 draft, the big acquistion I look for in 2013 is James Harden. The Thunder will have big money locked up in KD, Westbrook, Ibaka and Perkins. Someone will have to be the odd man out. With Gibson's contract expiring and Casspi off the books, thatwould leave the Cavs more space to sign a big name talent. Harden immediately solidifies the SG spot. Having him run the floor with Irving, Thompson, and MKG the Cavs would have a extremely young, yet experienced starting 5. A playoff run in 2013 is easily expected if Harden is added. The Cavs would have four roster spots filled for years to come.

I'm not saying this would be the perfect outcome for the Cavs. Things can change. The Cavs could actually compete at around .500 all year and potentially pick later in the first round. Maybe the Kings turn it around and the Cavs end up with 3 picks in round one and five total. Maye Varejao, Sessions, and Jamison are all gone by the end of the year. But if this is how the Cavs looked to end 2012 and to start 2013, I wouldn't be upset at all. The core seems to be coming together. Irving and Thompson will be cornerstones, now they just need to find another scorer and add depth and you could be looking at the Cavs being back in the playoff picture as early as 2013.

Brown's options later...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back on the Wagon

The Mailmen, despite not playing for two weeks, got back into their winning ways by taking care of Tune Squad, 69-62 this past Sunday.

"It was good to get back on the floor, we hate weeks off," Coach Jason Hunter said after, "it's where we struggled the most last year. A lot of our losses came after weeks off."

The Mailmen were limited depth wise. Center John Reminder missed the team bus to the game and was unavailable, leaving the team with only 6 players to dress.

Luckily, big man Kerry Hunter made his debut off of his knee surgery and had a fantastic showing. Hunter posted 10 points shooting 50% from the field (4/8) and hitting on two free throws (2/4). He also grabbed 7 rebounds, taking advantage of his size underneath.

"It was good to get back out there. I don't have the same lift yet...not that I had much to begin with," the veteran big man smiled, "but I'm glad to be back out there and helping us win."

The game looked to be in good hands after the first half. Leading 37-29 at the break, the good guys usually take their game to the next level in the second half. But weary legs seemed to take their toll as the Tune Squad hit 15 three pointers total, eight of them coming late in the second half. The lead was cut to four late, but some free throws from Brandon Hunter and Kerry Hunter sealed the victory.

Brandon Hunter paced the team with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Kerry (10 points), Jason Hunter (11 points), and Pat Cripple (11 points) also added double digit scoring. Andy Kempf and Mike Giardina, 7 rebounds a piece, helped control the glass.

The Mailmen take on Team Eric this coming Sunday. Team Eric was 0-3 as of this writing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Loss; Coach Fined; Realignment

There has been a whirl of activity over the past two weeks since the Mailmen played, and lost, their last basketball game to Boston Road 71-68.

After the loss the team, rightfully so, wasn't in the best state of mind.

"Well, we got outplayed down the stretch," injured big man Kerry Hunter said after, "I don't like to make excuses and talk about the officiating, it didn't feel like the best officiated game. But we didn't shoot well from beyond the arc and just made mistakes down the stretch."

Other team members weren't as willing to quiet their discontent for the officiating.

Brandon Hunter - "I don't want to talk about it, I really don't. You see us out there busting our (expletive) just as much as the other guys. We are shorter, so guys can knock us around and jump over our back. Terrible. We didn't lose this game. Not the way I saw it."

Pat Cripple - "Inside we didn't stand a chance, 7 players on one side, 5 on ours."

Coach Jason Hunter - "I'll come right out and say the officiating was terrible tonight. You know you try not to complain during the game, we just try to make our point known. But after awhile of going to the basket and getting hammered, then coming down to the other end and getting a phantom call on us. C'mon. C'mon. They lost the game for us, they really did. We play the same kind of basketball every night. Scrappy, fast-break. I think once we started talking to the refs it was over. Over for us. Just the worst job of officiating I've been a part of since we've been in this league."

A week after the comments made, Jason Hunter was fined $5,000 from the league.

"I knew that the sanctions would come down on me afterward," Hunter said in a phone interview this past week. "But it had to be said, have to stick up for my guys out there. We just want a fair deal out there."

The Mailmen led last in the second half when Boston went on a short run, tying the game. Boston had a chance to win in as time expired, but a corner three was off the mark. That's when fouls called against the Mailmen came into effect, and the full court shot by Andy Kempf at the end of overtime missed its target and the team fell to 2-1 on the regular season.

The Mailmen shot poor from behind the arc. Only mustering 24% (6/25) which is well below their 33% shooting touch on the year. They also missed an opportunity on the free throw line, only managing 2 of 6. The tean battled back inside however, getting to the basket. They worked up 46% of everything inside three, a touch better than their season average.

"We recognized the three wasn't falling," Kerry said after the game, "It was good that we got to the hoop, had some good follows. We have to battle more inside since we are always the smaller team on the floor."

The Mailmen should get taller this Sunday however as Kerry Hunter may make his season debut coming off of knee surgery.

"I ran a lot this week, more than previous weeks," Kerry said in a phone interview today, "it's getting better. I'm probably still not at 100%, but I feel strong enough to give it a go. Hopefully I help more than I hurt Sunday."

The Mailmen will take on a new divisional opponent, Tune Sqaud (0-3) as the league was realigned after the last league games. Make It Drizzle was also moved to the 2nd Division as both teams were not faring well in Divison 1. This realignment was used to balance the play from both Division's and now teams will only play most other teams in their division once. All teams will still make the playoffs.

Let's hope for a W and no settlements off the hardwood.